Fashion retail is huge. It’s particularly booming in Europe, where fashion startups are flourishing and major players are going mobile to capture a millennial market who want to shop on the go, when it suits.
Unless you’re going to create a fashion business that only pops up in certain city alleyways (which is a perfectly viable marketing idea…) you’ll need to get online, where innovative style retailers are building their brand.
It’s a given that your site will need to look good to sell. But beyond great imagery, what else should you consider?
Start by answering the following questions:
Who is your target audience?
Are they Prada or Payless? Do they care about the small details? Or is bulk purchasing more important? Do they want to know the provenance and story behind each item? What matters most to your core customers, and those you want to reach over time, will inform your choice of platform features.
How much money can you afford to spend?
What’s your budget for launching a site? Hosting and maintaining it? You can buy something outright and be on your own for maintenance, or choose a subscription service that offers you monthly hosting and support for a fee.
Do you need to integrate with other systems?
Will you accept Paypal or not? Not all eCommerce platforms allow third party payments. Do you have a logistics system you need to connect to for fulfilment? A mailing list you’ll want to plug in?
Make sure your choice talks to the systems it needs to, reliably and in real-time (delayed exchanges can create logistical chaos and may leave your customers waiting for their coveted goodies).
How much stock are you selling?
You’ll want to make sure your site can support your volume and scale. Additionally, some themes and platforms offer different price points and features for different volumes, so it helps to know what you’re starting with, and where you hope to go.
And perhaps the most important when it comes to getting the site up and running…
How much work do you want to do getting it ready?
If you’re a comfortable, confident web designer, you’d be ok buying a more sophisticated solution that has more features, but requires a good deal of tinkering to get right. If you don’t have those skills, or would rather spend the time on other parts of your business, then a more out-of-the-box site is for you.
Other things to think about:
- Do you want your customers to favorite and bookmark items?
- Do you want them to share their finds on social media?
- Love it if they could create collections, or mix and match your wares?
Look for these features in the product you’re buying.
Shopify is an eCommerce platform that allows anyone to easily sell online, and also integrates at physical locations, if you happen to have bricks and mortar to go with your start-up.
Best selling Shopify themes like ELLA offer responsive design for mobile devices; customizable menus and colors; the ability to filter your products by color, size, brand or price; social media integration; trending now feature units and image slideshows; size charts; lookbooks; newsletter integration with MailChimp; and much more.
Woocommerce is an open source eCommerce plugin for WordPress sites, well suited to small to medium outfits.
The Retailer is a great WooCommerce theme to get you started. As well as the usual complement of features for an eCommerce store front, it also has features to create an affiliate program, customer review functionality so your buyers can share how much they love your creations; a drag and drop page builder; business insight tools and more.
OpenCart is an open source eCommerce solution that uses PHP, like WordPress. It’s
Themes for OpenCart include Coolbaby, designed to showcase product collections and make buying easy. Coolbaby boasts a Bootstrap framework; full responsive mode; MailChimp integration; one click install; cross browser compatibility; custom HTML pages; a price countdown option; and social widgets.
A stalwart of open source eCommerce, OSCommerce is a collaborative platform that sits behind many online stores.
A simple option like DressCode gives you a mobile ready solution with featured spots for best sellers and other trending items. It also has zoomable product images; social bookmarking tools for items; customer review capability and plenty of ways to customize.
A heavyweight, open source eCommerce solution, Magento is capable of running online stores with thousands of SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) and has a great reputation for strong SEO.
Highly configurable and customisable, the platform is unlikely to be the first choice for an eCommerce novice. But you can always use the help of a professional to help get you up and running.
A theme like SM Papa offers you multi-currency and multi-language options; responsive slideshows; a custom wishlist page, cart page and contact page; gorgeous details pages with pop-up images; a blog; and more.
Featured image: nito100